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Archive for the ‘propaganda’ Category

A neocon -staged resignation at RT? Stage-managed journalism everywhere?

Posted by Charles II on December 10, 2014

As regular readers know, I encourage media viewers not to trust any outlet, and to be aware of the biases of each outlet. Russia Today (RT) is state-run TV. So is BBC. So is Al Jazeera. And, due to a certain history, so–to some degree– is the New York Times. None of them should be believed credulously. Instead, the reader/viewer has to sift through the biases and figure what topics each source lies about and which ones it tends to be truthful about.

Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek, Truthdig:

For her public act of protest against Russia Today’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory and supposedly advancing the agenda of Vladimir Putin in Washington, D.C., previously unknown news anchor Liz Wahl has suddenly become one of the most famous unemployed people in America. After her on-air resignation from the cable news channel, Wahl appeared on the three major American cable news outlets—CNN, Fox News, MSNBC—to denounce the heavy-handed editorial line she claims her bosses imposed on her and other staffers.

Behind the coverage of Wahl’s dramatic protest, a cadre of neoconservatives was celebrating a public relations coup.

At the center of the intrigue is a young neoconservative writer and activist who helped craft Wahl’s strategy and exploit her resignation to propel the agenda of a powerful pro-war lobby in Washington.

[James] Kirchick acknowledged having been in contact with Wahl since August, but cast himself as a passive bystander to the spectacle….
So who was Kirchick, and what sort of commitment did he maintain to “objectivity and the truth?”

In fact, Kirchick was a senior fellow at FPI, the neoconservative think tank that had hyped up Wahl’s resignation minutes before she quit. Launched by Weekly Standard founder William Kristol and two former foreign policy aides to Mitt Romney, Dan Senor and Robert Kagan (the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland), FPI grew directly out of the Project for a New American Century that led the public pressure campaign for a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq after the Bin Laden-orchestrated 9/11 attacks.

Now, I stumbled across this in a very interesting piece by Margarita Simonyan of RT on how that network has been trashed by American media in the service of undermining its Ukraine reporting. In the wake of that effort everyone “knows” that RT is a propaganda outlet–as well I know from the trashing that I saw at the Daily Kos of anyone who dared link RT. There’s no question that Russia is an interested party in Ukraine–they regard it as an existential issue– and that their state-run media reflect that. But one need only mention Judith Miller to recall that our media also serve as stenographers to government. So RT’s reporting should be questioned. But look at what they have presented in defending their journalistic integrity (Simonyan):

* Evidence that one of their employees was bought off or pressured into resigning by well-known neoconservatives
* Evidence that CNN censored its own relentlessly hostile interview of an RT journalist to avoid confronting Christiane Amanpour’s conflict of interest (she’s married to Jamie Rubin of the State Dept.)
* A statement (confirmed in The Guardian) that they were threatened with closure by the British government because their reporting wasn’t truthful (as if this standard has ever been applied to a Murdoch property)
* A claim that even The Guardian has been running an unusual number of stories hostile to RT (See, for example, here)

This is unsettling to anyone who understands that we get at the truth by sifting through the lies that different self-interested parties tell. Even The Guardian, which should be the beacon for press freedom, can publish a piece of trash like Nick Cohen‘s purely ad hominem bashing of RT. Even Christiane Amanpour, who has done a lot of courageous frontline reporting, can be used as a tool by her network to try to discredit another network. Even the British press office, Ofcom, can make an Orwellian threat to silence a news outlet because it says that it lies by contradicting the British government.

If RT is silenced, it will give our own government much more freedom to lie.

Posted in abuse of power, Media machine, propaganda, Russia | 3 Comments »

Wikis go Astroturf: Ballotopedia, Judgepedia, WikiFOIA are Koch funded

Posted by Charles II on December 3, 2012

Sara Jerving, PR Watch via t/o:

The Lucy Burns Institute (LBI) is a Madison-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2006 and named after a significant leader of the women’s suffrage movement. The organization sponsors three websites: Ballotpedia, which tracks elections and ballot measures at the state level; WikiFOIA, which provides Information on how to use Freedom of information laws at the state and local level; and Judgepedia, which provides information on the nation’s judges and court systems.

Lucy Burns is what one could call a front group for or subsidiary of the Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams receives its funding from a cut-out organization that is funded by Charles Koch, and in turn, it funds the Tea Party Patriots and other conservative groups. Lucy Burns took over the wikis from Sam Adams and receives funding from them. So the money flow goes:

Charles Koch → Claude R. Lambe Foundation → State Policy Network → Sam Adams Alliance → Lucy Burns Institute.

Why a non-profit should be able to fund another non-profit is beyond me. It becomes impossible to determine whether contributions which received a tax exemption for being charitable are used for charitable purposes. But such is the state of our tax law.

There are many other ties to the Kochs. For example:

LBI’s board of directors also includes right-wing and Koch ties. LBI’s secretary, Jack McHugh, is a senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Mackinac Center is a right-wing think tank, which has received some funding from the Kochs and is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Also, interesting to those of us who follow the blogosphere:

Erick Erickson, the Chairman of the Board and Managing Editor of Redstate, is a board member of LBI. Redstate is the “leading conservative news blog for right of center online activists.” Breitbart TV describes Erickson as a “right wing hero.”

The Kochs apparently think they can buy the truth. They have created an immense and difficult to detect propaganda apparatus that influences journalists too busy or too sloppy to do primary source research. One has to be careful to believe only what one can independently confirm, because they have well and truly polluted the well.

Posted in koch brothers, Media machine, propaganda | 1 Comment »

Why, hello there, Megan McArdle!

Posted by Charles II on September 21, 2012

Via Ritholtz, and Yves a review of the career of Atlantic/Newsweek/Daily Beast columnist Megan McArdle by Yasha Levine and Mark Ames of Project S.H.A.M.E. .

The part I found most interesting:

* McArdle received journalism training from the right-wing Institute for Humane Studies, headed by Charles Koch since the 1960s. According to the IHS, its journalism program “places talented writers and communicators—who support individual liberty, free markets, and peace—at media companies and non-profit newsrooms”...
* In 2011, McArdle returned to her Koch alma mater as a guest lecturer and instructor at the Institute for Humane Studies’ “Journalism & the Free Society” summer internship program. The program tackled such topics as “Is an ‘objective’ press possible — or even desirable?” Other faculty members joining McArdle that year included Radley Balko, then-editor at the Kochs’ Reason magazine
* In a sign of just how close and trusted McArdle is to the Kochs, in October 2011, she was chosen to emcee Charles Koch’s 50th Anniversary gala celebration of his flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies, featuring Charles Koch as the keynote speaker and guest of honor. McArdle and Koch were joined by hundreds of leading GOP donors and activists….The IHS attempted to hide McArdle’s involvement, scrubbing her name from the dinner announcement page. (emphases added)

There’s more on McArdle’s comic career, her dishonesty and hypocrisy, but the point is that she’s paid, trained, and placed by the true heirs of Lenin, Charles and David Koch for the purpose of inserting propaganda into public discourse. She is an apparatchik. And The Atlantic, The Economist, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast have all been used as tools of dissemination.

Project S.H.A.M.E. describes itself as follows:

The S.H.A.M.E. Media Transparency Project takes the war against corporate trolls and media shills to a new and more effective level. Its goal is to expose corrupt media figures, document journalistic fraud and make life a little harder for covert propagandists who manipulate the public, degrade our democracy and help perpetuate oligarchy power.

S.H.A.M.E. was inspired by our readers and donors, who are tired of the rampant media fraud and deception, and want some way to fight back and reclaim our democracy.

The purpose of S.H.A.M.E. is not to merely document media crimes, nor simply to humiliate or call out hypocrisy. The project is about providing useful, fun and effective tools the public can use to protect itself from being manipulated by sophisticated public relations con-artistry.

Think of S.H.A.M.E. as a kind of roach trap for media shills and corporate lackeys.

Posted in koch brothers, Media machine, mediawhores, propaganda, Republicans as cancer | Comments Off

Sauce for the gander: USAID expelled from Russia

Posted by Charles II on September 19, 2012

Miriam Elder, The Guardian:

The Russian government has given the US agency for international development (USAid) until 1 October to cease all operations in the country. The agency helps fund a number of pro-democracy and human rights groups that have provoked the Kremlin’s wrath amid an unprecedented opposition movement against the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

In an uncharacteristically blunt statement, the Russian foreign ministry said that the decision to shut USAid was taken primarily because the agency’s work “does not always correspond to [its] stated goals”.

“This means attempts to exert influence, via the distribution of grants, upon political processes, including elections of various levels and institutions of civil society,” it said.

This is one of those stories that gets framed in the Western press as western democracies helping oppressed people around the world. I think we all sympathize with protestors like Pussy Riot, the band recently jailed for protesting against Putin in the cathedral, and there’s not much question that Putin is an authoritarian.

But is what US AID is doing, however benevolent, right?

US AID is involved in influencing elections all around the world, including in places that do not have dictators, just leaders that we don’t like. That puts us in the position of manipulating elections. Would we accept that from foreign governments? Certainly on this blog I’ve raised the concern that the Chinese government–or even the Chinese criminal syndicates– could be using Sheldon Adelson as a conduit for contributions to manipulate our system.

US AID is widely believed to be a CIA front. For example, La Jornada, a center-left newspaper in Mexico, published this article calling USAID a front for the CIA and saying that “from Iraq to Venezuela, USAID is one of the most active mechanisms for intelligence and destabilization in the world.”

We would regard the manipulation of our media by an outside power as a hostile act. We should be careful not to be seen as doing the same.

Posted in media, Media machine, propaganda | 3 Comments »

Truthleak: Japanese ex-PM says nuclear industry is corrupt, dictatorial. A case history on the functioning of propaganda

Posted by Charles II on May 29, 2012

The former Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, has given striking testimony to Parliament, in which he accepted blame for his own poor response during the Fukushima meltdown, but also attempted to obtain some degree of absolution because of the degree of corruption of the nuclear industry. He also urged Parliament to abandon nuclear power. To my surprise, Voice of America had some of the best coverage, reporting that Kan said:

“TEPCO and the Electric Power Companies of Japan have dominated the nuclear power industry for the last 40 years. Through this nuclear clique and the rules they created, they expelled and isolated industry experts, politicians and bureaucrats who were critical, while the rest just looked on because of self-protection and an attitude of peace-at-any-cost. I’m saying this because I feel partly responsible.”

“This nuclear clique, which has been created by the vested interest, is similar to the former Imperial Japanese military. We have to totally destroy and eradicate the organizational structure of the vested interests and (the) influence it has on the public. I think this should be the first step in reforming the nuclear industry.”

Comparing the nuclear industry to the Imperial Japanese military is to call that industry a fascist state.

Contrast this with Martin Fackler of The New York Times. This version excludes any reference to the Japanese Empire, substituting a milder reference to “the sickness of the system” with a comparison to Chernobyl and Soviet Communism. There are jabs and digs at Kan in the article that look like an attempt to discredit him. Mainichi Shimbun goes further and excises any reference to the corruption of the industry. The Washington Post (i.e., AP) is possibly even less useful. The Straits Times has a short but pointed piece that makes the connection between the nuclear industry and the fascists. The Guardian’s coverage is strangely muted. The Independent is missing in action. Ditto, FT. Reuters, useless. The Age, ditto. Yomiuri, ditto. Cordula Meyer of Der Spiegel has excellent background, but hasn’t commented on Kan’s testimony:

In Japan, the term “The Atomic Village” refers to an isolated elite that has formed around the country’s nuclear complex. …It’s as if Austrian writer Robert Jungk’s horrific vision of the “nuclear state” had become reality….Even many media organizations, as recipients of generous payments for the electricity industry, are part of the cartel….”Our country was literally brainwashed,” says Taro Kono, a member of the lower house of the Japanese Diet for the conservative LDP. “Atomic energy is a cult in Japan.” …Many scientists, especially at the University of Tokyo, are partial to TEPCO. The company contributes millions to the university and supports many associations, think tanks and commissions….Meanwhile, the Japanese government has begun asking Internet providers to remove “false reports” about Fukushima from the web…In Japan, the insiders who talked about the abuses at TEPCO were intimidated, as were journalists who reported on these abuses….

Of course, Germany is on a path to become nuclear free, so the nuclear industry doesn’t have much sway there. Think that the “Atomic Village” might actually be an international metropolis?

This is a major story. Japanese, at least Japanese in positions of leadership, simply do not use such direct language except in extremis. It would be as big as if George W. Bush got up in front of Congress and said that the petroleum industry, from academia to the engineering firms that build the plants to their boosters in Congress were secret Stalinists, destroying America from within.

And the biggest story is who is not covering it.

This is an excellent case history in propaganda. A propaganda system does not completely squelch stories. It is careful to tell only lies that are too big or unverifiable to be detected. Propaganda systems tell a portion of the truth, in such a way as to distort the meaning. And if one can find a portion of the information system where what they are covering up differs from what the rest of the system is covering up–like Der Spiegel’s reporting on an industry that has no political power in Germany–then occasionally the truth leaks out.

(Crossposted at Daily Kos)

Posted in Japan, Media machine, nukes, propaganda | 2 Comments »

Me or your lying eyes? Media and government create a false reality about protests.

Posted by Charles II on February 5, 2012

In watching most television, it’s sometimes wise not to trust your eyes. In this piece, police clumsily disguised as Black Bloc protesters attempt to discredit a Canadian protest. And are caught at it. According to what the National Lawyers Guild has reported, this goes on all the time in the US. The US media never report on it.

Posted in media, Media machine, Occupy movement, propaganda | 8 Comments »

State Department solution for Haitian crisis? Spam./updated

Posted by Charles II on December 28, 2011

The State Department sent me no fewer than eleven e-mails today on the wonderful things they’re doing in Haiti. Now, anyone with Internet access can find out that things are a mess, with even water treatment nonfunctional (hence the cholera epidemic) thanks to our obstruction of (presumbaly Aristide’s) development efforts.

And have things improved? Jimmy Carter, November 8th, 2011:

Former President Jimmy Carter: “I’ve only been here one day, and I’ve seen—and we’ve driven through Port-au-Prince and through part of the large city. I don’t see any evidence of building homes for poor families. I see a lot of reconstruction of very large houses, you know, where rich people live.

From Boston Review, Colin Dayan:

Meanwhile there is no sign of the permanent housing that Martelly announced for the 630,000–700,000 Haitians who still live in camps without toilets or running water. Instead mass evictions from the camps have begun…

While reconstruction lags, old prisons in Haiti are being refurbished, and new private prisons are going up. It took about one month after the earthquake for the U.S.-based GEO Group to receive a contract in Haiti for “guard services.”

This kind of puts a different odor on State Department claims to have resettled 64% of the people in refugee camps. Re-settled them… into oblivion? I have to give them points for how they claim to have resolved land ownership issues in a nation where the very contours of the land have been obliterated, but consider the scale: “The enumeration process consists of speaking with IDPs [internally displaced people] to collect information regarding tenure and occupancy, which the community then validates to confirm its accuracy. As of October 2011, IOM had collected, recorded, and validated land tenure and occupancy status of more than 8,800 plots/buildings with USAID support.” In almost two years, they did arrive at the correct solution, namely talk to the people who lived there, but helped probably fewer than 5% of the people affected.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Haiti, propaganda, State Department | 2 Comments »

Blowback Central: Online propaganda website

Posted by Charles II on November 26, 2011

Via Scott Horton, we learn from Foreign Policy’s David Trilling that the US taxpayer is funding the Pentagon’s lie machine to improve the image of dictators who boil their political opponents to death, and the like:

Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight “influence websites” funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy’s rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats.

Central Asia Online was created in 2008…

The target is “online audiences” in the five post-Soviet Central Asian republics, plus Afghanistan and Pakistan, though the material — mostly about security and published in English, Russian, Urdu, and Farsi — also seeps into local newspapers, websites, and news aggregators around the world, expanding the site’s readership. Though it is the responsibility of those outlets to attribute, many, at least in Central Asia, do not, billing the stories as original, local reporting, rather than DOD propaganda.

It’s not illegal for the US to lie to foreign countries. But now we have to assume that misinformation originating from the US could end up in places like Dawn or the India Times…and thence, perhaps, in The Washington Post or The Washington Times, where it can be used to mislead the people voting on…contracts to General Dynamics.

Posted in Afghanistan, Pentagon, propaganda | Comments Off

Kirchner wins re-election in a landslide. US media continue losing.

Posted by Charles II on October 24, 2011

Via Dean Baker, we learn about NYT carping about Mrs. Kirchner of Argentina. As Baker says, there were no positive sources in Alex Barrionuevo‘s piece, but instead this sort of vague complaining that she shouldn’t have won 53% of the vote (and the socialist FAP won 17%, so the right was reduced to a tiny minority):

“Argentina is … a post-authoritarian, democratic government that has not embraced the principles of macroeconomic stability…

…Argentina’s regional and international profile “has diminished dramatically” under the Kirchners… “They carry no geopolitical weight.”

….the government’s authoritarian style…

…the government’s vulnerabilities — corruption and cronyism,” .

…“When the money runs out, there will be a political reckoning,”

This thinly-veiled contempt is pretty remarkable considering that a decade ago, the Western press said that Argentina would never recover from its debt default–and, yet, somehow Nestor Kirchner not only helped the country survive, but brought it to prosperity. As Barrionuevo concedes, “Still, despite predictions that the economic model would collapse, the economy grew by 9.2 percent last year….

I have no idea whether Kirchner will be a good leader for the problems Argentina’s people face. But I trust the Argentines. They made an informed decision, having watched her performance through one term of office.

Our papers are run and written by small-minded, snotty brats, and what they produce is not news. It’s propaganda.
____________
Update. Mark Weisbrot, writing in The Guardian:

Since Argentina defaulted on $95bn of international debt nine years ago and blew off the International Monetary Fund, the economy has done remarkably well. For the years 2002-2011, using the IMF’s projections for the end of this year, Argentina has chalked up real GDP growth of about 94%. This is the fastest economic growth in the western hemisphere – about twice that of Brazil, for example, which has also improved enormously over past performance.

The benefits of growth don’t always trickle down, but in this case, the Argentine government has made sure that many did. Poverty and extreme poverty have been reduced by about two thirds since their peak in 2002, and employment has increased to record levels. Social spending by the government has nearly tripled in real terms.

Inequality has also been considerably reduced…

Gee, it’s a real mystery why she got re-elected.

Posted in Latin America, Media machine, mediawhores, propaganda | 4 Comments »

Investment banks send Facebook trolls to disrupt Occupy Wall Street

Posted by Charles II on October 21, 2011

The story is from Carl Franzen at Talking Points Memo’s Idealab (via Finance Addict, via Avedon):

…bank employees have allegedly “trolled” the Facebook event page, trying to sow dissent with critical wall postings, at least according to Christian.

“Several corporate-level banking institutions have sent ‘trolls’ to discourage the movement through the event page, including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch,” Christian wrote to TPM in an email. “I’ve encouraged all supporters to respond civilly to these bank employees.”

As proof, Christian provided TPM with screenshots of a wall post from a woman who’s LinkedIn profile indicates she is a “Teller Ops Specialist” at Bank of America.

TPM has contacted the woman and will update when we receive a response.

“When ‘trolls’ have been confronted regarding their employment with a corporate banking institution, their posts & profiles have mysteriously disappeared,” Christian told TPM.

At this point, you can pretty well assume that any negative information about protest movements is being supplied by the elite. They lied about the so-called “Battle of Seattle,” and they’ve been lying systematically ever since.

Posted in financial crisis, organizing, propaganda | Comments Off

 
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